Renovating? Some DIY projects to avoid

Renovating? Some DIY projects to avoidUnless you have technical qualifications and a lot of experience, there are some projects and types of work that you are better off leaving to the pros. These are the ones that involve safety risks for you and your family, and it is better to let a professional to do the work.

Plumbing, electrical and gas repairs and installations. Depending on provincial regulations, a licensed contractor may be necessary by law. Make sure you know the rules where you live. For the sake of your family’s safety, work involving electricity and/or gas service should only be done by a qualified and licensed contractor. Because this type of work can result in a safety hazard if done incorrectly, permits are usually required.

Roofing or other exterior work involving heights. These projects require proper safety equipment that must be correctly used. If you don’t have such equipment and know how to use it properly, don’t take chances — hire a pro.

Asbestos removal. You should always use a professional for this tricky project, and provincial laws likely require it. Don’t risk your health by doing this work on your own.

The Canadian Home Builder’s Association offers free information on how to hire a contractor the smart and safe way. Find more information at www.getitinwriting.ca.

 

Great tips for hiring a renovation contractor

Great tips for hiring a renovation contractorIf your home needs a refresh, consider opting for the services of a licensed and qualified contractor for projects that are beyond your DIY skills. Use these tips to select the right one:

Find a contractor you can trust and are comfortable with. Check out the renovator thoroughly. Ask lots of questions when you meet, talk with previous customers, and visit past or current projects. Don’t underestimate the importance of a comfortable personal fit so that you feel they are easy to talk with and are responsive.

Find out what services the contractor offers. Many professional renovation contractors also provide design and planning services that add value to the process. A true pro will point out opportunities for improving your design and any alternative that can save you money or improve the overall quality of your project.

Make sure you have a detailed written contract. A professional contractor will always provide a complete written contract that spells out everything, including their warranty. Never settle for anything less than this. Working with a contractor who does business the right way means not having to lie awake at night worrying what the final costs will be, or if the job will even get finished. A cash deal with no contract is no deal at all.

Know what to expect. Ask a lot of questions before any work begins. Who will be at your home for each portion of the work? How will your day-to-day living be impacted? Should you consider moving out during any portion of the construction process? What if want to make changes? The more you know upfront about the whole process, the less anxious you’ll feel.

Take an active role throughout the project. The best renovation results come from good communication between you and your renovation contractor. Ask for regular updates and know how to get hold of the contractor if you have questions or concerns. Be prepared to spend time going over drawings, monitoring the project’s progress and fully discussing decisions.

Don’t expect a problem-free renovation. The bigger the project, the more likely you’ll run into the unexpected, such as existing deficiencies hidden in the walls, delays in special orders or bad weather. Be flexible and understand that some things are beyond the contractor’s control.

The Canadian Home Builder’s Association offers free information on how to hire a contractor the smart and safe way. Find more information at www.getitinwriting.ca.

 

Tips to choose the right tape for DIY projects

Tips to choose the right tape for DIY projectsThere’s an old saying, “if you can’t fix it with duct tape, you’re just not using enough.” Only what if the amount isn’t the issue, but rather the type? That’s right, not all tapes are created equal! So, how do you choose what’s right for your project? Here’s a few tips:

There are some jobs that simply need a quick fix or short-term hold. For these temporary applications, a Basic or Original duct tape can serve your purpose and save you some cash.

However, there are many projects that require extra strength and durability. For these, be sure to choose a higher-grade product, such as Duck Max Strength duct tape that will offer strong adhesion to a variety of surfaces for long-lasting repairs.

If you need strength, long-term performance, durability in extreme weather or adhesion to rough or dirty surfaces, you need a high-end product. For these situations—or if you simply want a top-of-the-line product for all of your projects—stock up on rolls of T-Rex Tape. It’s formulated with super-durable, extra-thick, UV-resistant materials to work longer and hold stronger than other utility tapes, in all kinds of weather and temperatures. (T-RexTape.com)

Finally, once you’ve determined the appropriate grade for your needs, tapes are also available in colours beyond traditional grey, such as black or white to blend in with surfaces. So, stock your workbench and junk drawer to ensure you’re ready for any project or situation.

Five DIY renovation tips

Five DIY renovation tipsAs the days grow longer and the sun begins to warm the soul, many of us might be thinking it’s time to get our home ready for the warmer weather. It’s a perfect time to embark on that painting or renovation project you’ve been dreaming about.

  1. Let the clean, fresh air in. Make sure there is plenty of ventilation during painting or varnishing projects, or when installing any flooring using glues or adhesives. You can find out about your local outdoor air quality by visiting www.airhealth.ca.
  2. Understand what you’re using. Whether it’s paint, caulking or even window cleaner, use chemical products as directed. Follow all safety and usage instructions on the label, including how to dispose of any leftover products. Be sure you use all personal safety equipment recommended on the label.
  3. Choose low-emission products when possible. Paint or varnish products often have a noticeable smell. The odour will contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Some chemical products that are labelled as “low emission” give off fewer VOCs. Look on the label to see if the product is low emission.
  4. Check for asbestos. If you are planning renovations and your home has building materials already installed that you think may contain asbestos (like insulation, exterior siding, floor or ceiling tiles), contact a trained and qualified asbestos abatement professional. They can test for and remove asbestos before you begin. Never try to remove building materials that may contain asbestos yourself.
  5. Keep chemicals away from children. Keep all household chemical products safely stored where children cannot see or reach them.

By following these renovation health tips, you can brush away the last signs of winter safely.

Genius small bathroom makeover ideas

Genius small bathroom makeover ideasLooking for your next reno project? Consider transforming your bathroom — the most renovated room in 2017 — with a few strategic upgrades so you can enjoy a relaxing oasis and boost your property’s resale value. Whether you’re looking to refresh your ensuite or a powder room, use these tricks to make the most of every square foot.

Savvy storage solutions. Maximize limited space by incorporating streamlined and efficient organizing and storage options. Think floating glass shelves to hold toiletries, built-in shelves and shower niches to house mood-setting décor and towels, and pullout drawers and desk trays to keep jewelry and makeup tidy.

Mix DIY with smart shopping. To keep your budget under control, combine simple do-it-yourself projects with new quality purchases. For example, update a builder-basic vanity with a fresh coat of paint and new hardware, and splurge on a clawfoot tub or heated floors. You can also go with more expensive tile and flooring in a small bathroom because you’ll need less material than you would in a larger space.

Opt for stylish resourceful fixtures. When upgrading your plumbing fixtures, choose efficient models that will make your life easier in the end. Make cleaning easier with the VorMax Plus self-cleaning toilet from American Standard. Available at Home Depot, this innovative toilet cleans and freshens with its Lysol Fresh Infuser every time you flush. Its smart design reduces the clutter of having multiple cleaning supplies and its antimicrobial surface eliminates buildup and dirt that cling onto conventional bowls.

Bring on the bold. Don’t be afraid to add fashion and flair — small bathrooms can benefit from character and charm that create visual interest and please the eye. Pick one or two features to play up. For a contemporary cottage look, try an oversized mirror framed in distressed wood. For a serious spa vibe, choose a luxurious showerhead, large tiles and plush accessories.

www.newscanada.com

Top 5 ways to turn your bathroom into a spa-like retreat

Top 5 ways to turn your bathroom into a spa-like retreatToday’s busy lifestyles leave many of us craving a quick recharge. And there’s no place like home to relax and unwind, so why not create a spa-like sanctuary where you can do just that? Here are some top tips on how to make it amazing.

Start with what’s behind the walls. There’s nothing less relaxing than dealing with a mould problem –– a common issue in bathrooms. The wrong type of insulation can be especially vulnerable, so look for one that contractors trust just for this purpose. I recommend an insulation called Rockwool Safe ‘n’ Sound. It’s made from stone, so it repels water and won’t promote mould, mildew or rot. It’ll also help create a peaceful retreat, thanks to excellent sound absorption.

It’s all about the water feature. Whether it’s a multi-head rain shower set against a backdrop of luxurious stone tile or a large, free-standing tub, nothing melts tension away and relaxes the muscles like water. Options abound and can be pricey, but remember, the water feature is the centrepiece of the space, and you’ll use it every single day for years.

Create a warm space. A cold floor can abruptly end your calming experience. Radiant in-floor heating is one feature that, once you have it, you’ll never know how you lived without it.

Let nature inspire. Recreate a spa aesthetic with natural materials like teak, bamboo or stone.

Lighting and music. Incorporating waterproof wireless controls for music and lighting let you set the mood and tone for the ultimate unwind. If you’re on a budget, add a pop of elegance with a beautiful light fixture on a dimmer and complement with aromatic candles.

Accessorize. From plush towels and robes to fresh flowers or greenery, add some elements that make your bathroom feel like a five-star hotel. Reduce visual clutter by storing toiletries or other items in decorative baskets or jars.

My advice is to relax, unwind, and tune out the world for a little while. Make it a guilt-free indulgence, because after all, we take better care of others when we take care of ourselves, too.

Scott McGillivray is the host of the hit HGTV series Income Property and Moving the McGillivrays, a full-time real estate investor, contractor, author, and educator.

www.newscanada.com

Top tips to create an ideal income suite

Top tips to create an ideal income suiteFrom the condominium craze to the rise of multigenerational living, the climbing cost of homeownership across Canada continues to spawn new trends. The transformation of basements into rental suites is a big one that can help offset mortgage costs. There are plenty of advantages, as well as some important considerations to ensure the best result.

Do your homework. Check zoning, bylaws and adhere to your local building code. As with any new construction or renovation, building permits must be obtained, and all work must be code compliant. This will protect you and any future tenants.

Waterproof it. Check the interior foundation and floors for existing moisture issues, water damage or mould problems. Address any primary moisture issues before finishing the space.

Insulation is key. As a landlord, it’s wise to invest in smart renovations that can improve efficiency and bolster your bottom line. For the best results, insulate well. I recommend installing a rigid board insulation, like Rockwool ComfortBoard 80, against the concrete foundation before you stud the wall. The board is mechanically fastened or adhered to the concrete foundation wall, which prevents thermal bridging through the studs, providing better thermal performance. Finish with a moisture-resistant and dimensionally stable insulation between the studs, like R14 Comfortbatt, to protect against common basement issues such as mould, mildew and rot.

Consider fire safety and soundproofing. Select building materials with a high fire-resistance rating that will not off-gas or contribute to toxic smoke in the event of a fire. Soundproofing is also a must when you plan to share space. Install sound absorbent insulation between floors with resilient channels to reduce sound transfer between living areas. Contractors love stone wool fire and soundproofing insulation, because it protects against fire and noise and is easy to install.

Spend wisely. Keep the renovation budget reasonable. Spending no more than two years’ worth of rent to convert your space is a good general rule of thumb. Forego high-end finishes. Instead, create focal points that will “sell” the suite.

Scott McGillivray is the host of the hit HGTV series Income Property and Moving the McGillivrays, a full-time real estate investor, contractor, author, and educator.

www.newscanada.com

Top 10 ways to revive your dated house

Top 10 ways to revive your dated houseOur homes are where memories are made, our retreat from the world. However, daily living, growing families, and time can leave your home looking less than its best. Fortunately, there’s plenty you can do to breathe new life into a well-loved space. These top DIY projects will ensure your home looks and performs its best.

Clean. A neat and tidy home instantly brightens the space, creating a great foundation for other improvements.

Paint. This is the easiest way to quickly transform the look of a dated room. Don’t forget to paint the trim to really make it pop.

Consider replacing worn flooring. Update with hardwoods or choose more affordable options such as laminate or vinyl plank flooring. Eco-friendly options like bamboo or cork flooring have grown in popularity, while today’s assortment of tiles can also create a stunning look.

Address the comfort factor. Taking measures to make your home more energy efficient can dramatically improve everyday comfort and save you money. The easiest way to start is by simply topping up your attic insulation. Many contractors recommend a fire-safe, mould- and water-resistant stone wool insulation like Rockwool Comfortbatt. Made from stone, it’s durable and easy to install. This important update can potentially save you hundreds in annual heating costs, and it only takes about a day or so to complete.

Make simple swaps. New light fixtures or hardware on cabinetry can provide your room with an instant refresh. Give cabinets a new coat of paint if they look tired or dated.

Let there be light. Replace heavy drapes with sheer window coverings or blinds to flood the home with as much natural light as possible.

Open up the space. Remove excess furniture and all signs of clutter. Organize closets and pantries. Open windows to allow fresh air inside.

Accessorize. Add inviting elements like fresh flowers, throws or toss cushions. Does your room have a distinct focal point? Carefully chosen and placed accents or artwork can really make it stand out.

Create curb appeal. Clean and pressure-wash the driveway and walkways. Cut the grass, pull weeds, and trim shrubs. Consider planting annuals to add colour. Paint your front door and house numbers.

Reboot your entry-way. It’s simple, but it sets the tone. Make sure it’s bright, open and functions effectively. Install some clever storage solutions –– there are plenty of options even for small spaces. It should always feel good to walk through the front door. After all, there’s no place like home.

www.newscanada.com